A BRITISH politician who compared homosexuality to incest and suggested homophobia was no worse than disliking Earl Grey tea has been elected by UK voters to serve in the European Parliament.
More than 375 million people were eligible to vote last week to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the main legislative body of the European Union (EU), which sits in Brussels, Belgium and Strasbourg in France.
In a 2012 blog post, reported in the Leicester Mercury, the former Conservative MEP said: “If two men have a right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings? Are we to authorise incest?”
While just last month, British tabloid The Sun reported Helmer as saying some people found homosexuality “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant”.
He went on to compare homophobia to different tastes in tea, saying: “You may tell me that you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.”
Helmer has defended himself, saying he does not advocate prejudice or violence against LGBTI people.
The election of Helmer came on an extraordinary night for UK politics that saw the anti-EU UKIP come first in the European elections and make gains in local authorities across England.
However, in a sign that voters care more for UKIP’s policies on Europe than social rights, the party’s first openly-gay MEP has also been elected.
David Coburn, a businessman, will represent Scottish UKIP voters in Brussels.
Despite this, Coburn is no supporter of gay marriage, telling PinkNews in March that “we have for so long been persecuted ourselves that it seems like performing an unnecessary victory roll over a defeated enemy to demand that our perfectly satisfactory arrangements should be called ‘marriage’.”
In France, the publicly homophobic and far-right Front National party made big gains, snaring 25 per cent of the country’s vote.
Leader Marine Le Pen has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, telling France 24 in 2012 it would “undermine the very foundations of our civilisation and the structures that protect family life”.
Same sex marriage has been legal in France since May last year.
However, despite the gains by Eurosceptic and far-right parties, pro-European parties are expected to still have a comfortable majority in the EU parliament.